The Jan. 10 article “When food is just what the MD ordered” made excellent points about how food prescriptions — especially healthful, plant-predominant diets — can prevent and treat chronic health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. Empowering clinicians to treat patients with food will save millions of people and help patients adopt healthy lifestyle changes. Prescribing healthy food might be more complex than prescribing a pill, but that’s an argument for making it a more accessible and affordable option.
Twenty-nine percent of adults in New York City have hypertension and 12 percent have diabetes, and the city is attacking these problems head-on. New York is teaching schoolchildren about nutrition early in life, and public hospitals are adopting plant-based default meals. The city anticipates serving 850,000 plant-based meals to hospital patients in 2023, with a projected food savings of $500,000. And it is providing free introductory nutrition and lifestyle medicine training to more than 200,000 clinicians.
A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that expanding access to programs such as medically tailored meals not only could result in fewer hospitalizations nationwide but also could produce a potential net cost savings of $13.6 billion per year.
If we can teach people with diabetes to monitor their glucose at home, why can’t we also teach them how to eat healthier?
Kate MacKenzie, New York
The writer is the executive director of the New York City mayor’s Office of Food Policy.